In The Know: AG’s office prepares to enforce new laws on pharmacy corporations | OSDE faces criticism over outstanding open records requests | Policy Matters | More

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Courts, harmful rhetoric delay justice for Tulsa Race Massacre: Recent events have again brought international attention to the Tulsa Race Massacre, a dark chapter in our state’s history that hasn’t gotten a full examination or justice for the survivors. These recent events highlight the need to keep attention focused on the generational traumas caused both by the race massacre and decades of harmful policy decisions that followed. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

State Government News

Attorney general hiring staff to enforce laws on controversial pharmacy corporations: As Attorney General Gentner Drummond prepares to take over enforcement of laws regulating giant pharmacy benefit manager corporations, his office is staffing up. Five positions posted on the state’s job board include listings for attorneys, agents and an analyst focused on making sure the industry follows Oklahoma laws. [The Oklahoman]

Education Watch: Education Department Facing Criticism Over Open Records: When KFOR reporter Kaylee Olivas called out state Superintendent of Schools Ryan Walters for dragging out a public records request for more than 100 days, education journalists around the state could no doubt relate. Public records are an important tool for journalists — part of our lifeblood, really. But the state’s Open Records Act doesn’t contain a time limit for response, only the standard “prompt and reasonable.” Olivas asks how transparent can the agency really be if it takes months to provide answers? [Oklahoma Watch]

We fact-checked Ryan Walters on misspent federal money and more claims: The Frontier found Oklahoma’s controversial schools chief stretched the truth at a recent public appearance in Norman. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma Water Resources Board seeks public input as they develop a water strategy for the next 50 years: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is developing a new Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan to ensure the state has enough good water over the next 50 years. The OWRB is hosting rounds of public input meetings across the state starting in August. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Chickasaw Nation invests in newly formed private investment firm: The Chickasaw Nation has made an “anchor investment” in a newly formed private investment firm, Good Springs Capital. Goals are to invest in “founder and entrepreneur-led” companies with high potential for growth, the Chickasaw Nation said in a release. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

Why advocates want to change Oklahoma’s primary voting system: Oklahoma’s semi-closed primary system shuts out hundreds of thousands of voters each election cycle, suppressing voter turnout and catering to the political fringe in terms of election issues. Some are calling for a change in hopes of improving representation at the state Capitol and reversing Oklahoma’s status as one of the lowest voter participation states in the nation. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

First over-the-counter birth control pill gets FDA approval: U.S. officials have approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill, which will let American women and girls buy contraceptive medication from the same aisle as aspirin and eyedrops. The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it cleared Perrigo’s once-a-day Opill to be sold without a prescription, making it the first such medication to be moved out from behind the pharmacy counter. The company won’t start shipping the pill until early next year, and there will be no age restrictions on sales. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Most Oklahoma Jails Failed Health Department Inspections in 2022: State jail inspectors found hundreds of violations in 2022, ranging from faulty smoke detection systems to raw sewage leaking into cells and common areas. But unless their facilities are continually cited for the same repeated deficiencies, jail administrators face no formal repercussions for housing detainees in substandard conditions. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma board to team up with organization to put juvenile offenders on right path: The Board of County Commissioners voted to team up with a local organization that looks to put juvenile offenders on the right path. The program offers a wide array of services to juvenile offenders in Oklahoma County, including job training. The Oklahoma County Juvenile Bureau presented their request to, once again, work with the organization PIVOT to improve outcomes for at-risk youth in Oklahoma County. [KOCO Oklahoma City]

New criminal justice task force gets ‘three branches of government working together,’ Stitt says: A task force created by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday aims to find solutions for criminal justice reform by identifying strategies to reduce crime and recidivism while enhancing public safety. The Modernized Operations through Data and Evidenced-based Restoration Now — MODERN — Justice Task Force is a rare joint initiative that will have Stitt’s office, the Oklahoma Legislature and state court officials working together. [Tulsa World]

Column: Flexible hiring practices good for business: Fair-chance hiring refers to the practice of hiring qualified job candidates despite low-level, nonviolent, criminal offenses they committed in their past. Countless studies show that doing so is beneficial for communities, businesses and economies. [Timothy Tardibono Guest Column / Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Tax revenue remains strong as Oklahoma economy, personal income grow: Though down from lofty highs driven by oil and gas prices, tax revenue is still flowing strongly into Oklahoma coffers as people make more money and continue to spend, according to new state and federal reports. [The Oklahoman]

Shop-local initiative vital to small businesses in Oklahoma: Oklahoma merchants are bolstering their inventory ahead of an annual celebration of shopping local. The Weekend of Local, which begins Friday, is a statewide initiative led by the Independent Shopkeepers Association with more than 300 participating local shops and restaurants. To encourage patronage, businesses will offer in-store events, sidewalk sales and other promotions. [Journal Record]

Education News

‘Hateful rhetoric’ called out at Tulsa school board meeting; student jeered for sharing concerns: Tempers flared Monday night at Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting thanks in part to an Instagram post from a long-time vendor. [Tulsa World]

Colleges rely on honor system when checking sexual assault background of student athletes: At many of the nation’s top sports colleges, vetting athletes for past sexual misconduct and violent acts under a new NCAA policy boils down to one step: asking them. The policy was the national college sports organization’s answer to a series of scandals in which coaches recruited athletes with histories of violence against women, some of whom were later accused of reoffending. Starting with the 2022-23 school year, the rule was intended to keep campuses safer. [The Oklahoman]

Experts from 23 nations attend symposium held at OSU: A goal to improve lives around the world by integrating aspects of human medicine and veterinary and environmental sciences drew research scientists and other experts from dozens of countries to a symposium held this week at Oklahoma State University. The Institute for Translational and Emerging Research in Advanced Comparative Therapy’s symposium, hosted by OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, featured more than 40 speakers from around the globe and drew attendees from no fewer than 23 nations. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Monroe Nichols announces he’s running for Tulsa mayor [Tulsa World]
  • Was this fired OKC employee preparing to contaminate city water? Maybe, court records show [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“But what we are hearing, and what we see in a very direct way at our gatherings, is that people are really hungry for a change and a little modernization in our system that will allow people to be better connected to policies and government.”

– Margaret Kobos, the founder of Oklahoma United for Progress, on recent conversations surrounding reform of the state’s primary election system to give Oklahoma voters more opportunities to participate in democracy. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

White Tulsans are 80% more likely to own a home than Black Tulsans. [Tulsa Equality Index]

Policy Note

The true costs of the Tulsa Race Massacre (2021): In both the Tulsa Race Massacre and later destruction caused by 1960s “urban renewal,” important Black capital that undergirded the community was lost, as were opportunities for wealth-building for Tulsa’s Black residents. To be clear, the loss of human life in the massacre is a horror beyond all calculation. But another important and often neglected dimension to this history is the devastating effects of destroyed communal wealth, which had supported the flourishing of the city’s Black residents. [Brookings]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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